Maternity services get shake-up
Te Kuiti’s birthing unit will close and the Tokoroa service enhanced as part of a shake-up of maternity services in the South Waikato and King Country.
Waikato DHB members approved the initiative at May’s board meeting. It follows six weeks of consultation regarding maternity services in Te Kuiti, Tokoroa and Taumarunui.
The approved plan will see birthing facilities in Taumarunui and Tokoroa enhanced.
The Te Kuiti birth unit will be replaced by a hub that deals with maternity services other than birth and postnatal stay.
The health board will move to a lead maternity carer (LMC) model for Te Kuiti and Tokoroa.
The DHB has 11 birthing facilities across the region, managing about 5000 births a year.
Waikato DHB community and clinical support executive director Mark Spittal said the simple reality is the majority of Te Kuiti women already choose to give birth at other facilities, such as the Te Awamutu primary birthing unit.
‘‘There are some risks and we have to have a good risk mitigation strategy.’’
Changes to maternity services will take time and are unlikely to occur before 2018.
‘‘You should be under no illusion that these changes will happen the next day,’’ Spittal told board members.
‘‘There are some risks and we have to have a good risk mitigation strategy. For example, in some of these areas, LMCS don’t currently reside, they don’t currently exist, so we have to do some work.
‘‘We want it [implementation] to be as fast as possible because the reality is we can’t invest in the enhancements that we want to do to improve the healthcare of many of our most vulnerable families until we exit some of the things we’re doing.’’
The transition phase will involve designing services in partnership with community stakeholders and service providers.
Board member Clyde Wade said the availability of midwives was a potential Achilles heel.
Consideration and planning also has to be given as to how women will access ultrasounds.
‘‘It seems to me some sort of mobile ultrasound that visits every couple of weeks may be the way to go,’’ Wade said.
The changes to maternity services will see the DHB invest the same amount of money in South Waikato and King Country.